Thanks Marcus for the comparisons, but I am somewhat confused by this post. It says 2018 in title, but yet comments are from 2014-17. I’m assuming it was originally written earlier and you’ve updated. I’d be curious what edits were made; how your opinions may have changed; who are the new top contenders for 2018. With all the growth in the marketing automation space in past 3 years, it couldn’t be simply updating the title. Also curious if a company is already tied to Salesforce for CRM does that necessarily lift Marketing Cloud as the premier choice?
Higher Logic Marketing Automation Enterprise powered by Real Magnet is a leading marketing automation platform that helps businesses attract, engage and deliver better email, marketing, social and mobile campaigns. Higher Logic simplifies marketing automation with its intuitive design, seamless integration with leading CRMs and dedicated consultative team that ensures smarter engagement. Higher Logic's easy-to-use platform, intelligent productive analytics, and exceptional email deliverability helps the modern marketer navigate and succeed in a complex digital marketing landscape. We serve a wide breadth of customers including some of the largest associations, media companies and the most innovative technology companies, including the American Red Cross, Arnold & Porter, IBM, Kiplinger’s, MIT Technology Review, and Viacom.
Pretty much everything that Hubspot offers can be found elsewhere at a much lower cost. And yes, while it is true that Hubspot does offer a free version of their software, this doesn’t include any of their marketing automation features. If you’re looking to use Hubspot for marketing automation, you’ll need to cough up at least $800/month (paid annually), plus an additional $3,000 in onboarding fees. In other words, if your marketing automation budget is below $12,600/year, you may want to move on to our next suggestion.
This does not mean campaigns are not important. People want to receive those promotional emails from brands they trust and buy from. Email works, basics work and new ways to interact with customers or improve the experiences across those interactions, shouldn’t be an excuse to ignore the essentials we have known since so long. It also doesn’t mean we shouldn’t use a proper channel mix, depending on what works best in any given context. But it’s not because someone claims “this or that” doesn’t work that it really doesn’t work. The truth is that many businesses don’t know yet in what context specific tactics work.
Been a while so I thought you might want to update this popular list. These tools you mention are great and Ive used many of them and will now try the rest. 🙂 When its time to update this list and article Id suggest you consider these newer tools: Email Personalisation = Altaire.com/Tech – Email Data = Competitor.Email & Edatasource.com – GDPR RePermission = Decco-Engine.com – Rich Email Content = Polymerse.com. Thanks again for a great list!
The question that goes around in a small group I’m in is do you hit the email subscriber up with a hard sell immediately after they sign up for your newsletter (and presumably get a free ebook download or mini course), or do you hit them up with educational for the first few emails in order to build a little more trust in you and what you can do for someone.

Marketing departments, consultants and part-time marketing employees benefit by specifying criteria and outcomes for tasks and processes which are then interpreted, stored and executed by software, which increases efficiency and reduces human error. Originally focused on email marketing automation, marketing automation refers to a broad range of automation and analytic tools for marketing[2] especially inbound marketing. Marketing Automation platforms are used as a hosted or web-based solution, and no software installation is required by a customer.


The emfluence Marketing Platform was built for marketers, by marketers. We believe that usability is as important as functionality. That’s why we’ve focused the emfluence Marketing Platform’s features around what’s really important: helping digital marketers like you accomplish your goals every day. Whether you’re launching your own digital campaigns, managing a brand across a network of franchises, or creating campaigns for your book of business, you can leverage the emfluence Marketing Platform for: • Email Automation • Email Marketing • Drag & Drop Email Builders • Social Media Management • Surveys • Landing Pages • Form Builders • Automated Reporting • Website Tracking • Light Boxes and Modals • Variable Content Blocks Why do we spend so much time focusing on how you use our platform? Because we’re marketers, too, and we know that digital marketing isn’t just about sending emails and posting pictures to your favorite social media channel. It’s complex recipe of strategy, timing, response, and engagement. We believe with the right tool, you’ll be unstoppable.
We’re fond of saying that Net-Results is the 1st choice of people buying marketing automation for the 2nd time. This wasn’t devised in a marketing meeting, it's something we discovered talking to customers who love us. Marketers who've spent time using our competitors' software - those who've experienced what it's like to work with those vendors and their products - are consistently the ones who love us the most. Let's talk. You may love us too :)
Sailthru helps modern marketers at leading retail and media companies build deeper, longer-lasting relationships with their customers. Sailthru personalizes individual customer experiences across digital communication channels—in email, on a brand’s website and in their mobile applications. Sailthru-powered 1:1 relationships with consumers help drive higher revenue, improve customer lifetime value and reduce churn.
Quality Features, Powerful Integrations. TechValidate is ideal for entrepreneurs who want to have flexibility in their marketing endeavours. It is packed with a plethora of scalable features that improve your content, streamline your workflow, and increase the efficacy of your marketing campaign. It can also support a multitude of powerful integrations.
In case of doubt: the customer is expected to be more in control than today. Gartner, for instance, predicted that by 2020, customers will manage 85% of the relationship with a company without even talking to a human. Whether this will happen or not: fact is that the marketing industry and marketing automation continue to evolve and move towards an even more people-centric model, responding to digital signals and customer interactions, rather than heralding a campaign approach. We’ve been moving to a more buyer-driven buying reality for years now and it’s a channel-agnostic phenomenon.
In addition to satisfying legal requirements, email service providers (ESPs) began to help customers establish and manage their own email marketing campaigns. The service providers supply email templates and general best practices, as well as methods for handling subscriptions and cancellations automatically. Some ESPs will provide insight and assistance with deliverability issues for major email providers. They also provide statistics pertaining to the number of messages received and opened, and whether the recipients clicked on any links within the messages.
Marketo has developed customized solutions for healthcare, technology, financial services, manufacturing, media, and higher education, and its Engagement Hub gathers data so businesses can personalize their interactions as they analyze and adapt. That adaptation can happen in real time with Marketo’s instantaneous insights and rich customer profiles.
ThriveHive is marketing platform that empowers small business owners to grow their businesses through better marketing. The platform includes all of the essential online marketing tools and guidance necessary to get small business owners online and to succeed with marketing. ThriveHive is guided marketing for small business. Features Include: Better Website (optional) - Professionally built or DIY Customized Marketing Plan - Plans that work for small businesses Marketing Platform- All of your marketing in one place Contact Manager - Manage leads & customers Email - Send & track emails & newsletters Blog & Social Media - Create blog & social media posts Insight Emails - Marketing & lead notifications Marketing Coach - One-on-one expert marketing help Managed Advertising - Google AdWords & More
We were really impressed by the ExactTarget demo at Dreamforce (the company was recently acquired by salesforce.com). One thing that stood out to us about ExactTarget is the system’s ability to target communications over multiple channels. Most marketing automation tools focus on email, but ExactTarget goes beyond that and lets you target mobile app notifications, or even messages to the dashboard of a customer’s car (if, for example, you were a car manufacturer).
3. Sending limits – My biggest pet peeve with SendinBlue is the limits they impose on how many emails you can send. Unlike most marketing automation tools that limit the number of contacts you have, SendinBlue limits the number of emails you can send. While it appears to be a monthly limit, it’s actually a daily limit (the monthly limit is divided by 30). This has caused us several issues when going over our quota has meant emails end up being put on hold until the next day.
Adestra is a leading global provider of First-Person Marketing email and lifecycle marketing solutions for global and growing brands alike. The company's industry leading email marketing and automation platform provides marketers with a powerful infrastructure that helps them communicate more effectively with their customers and subscribers by providing hyper-relevant context. This proprietary technology also allows for automated email messaging and incorporates enterprise-class native functionality, which reduces implementations. Along with a superior platform to execute marketing automation, Adestra was founded on the principle that marketing success takes more than technology, which is why customer service is at the heart of our business. Adestra is more than software as a service. Adestra is Software AND a Service®.
Software as a Service (SaaS). In the MA market, SaaS is less of a trend than it is the dominant model for deploying software. Buyers will find that the majority of solutions—with the exception of some high-end B2C solutions—are delivered through the online marketing software model where the system is hosted by the software vendor and accessed over the Internet by user. A benefit of Web-based email marketing software is increased accessibility. They can be accessed on multiple devices and from any operating system, whether you're a Mac or PC. Interested in learning more about email marketing software? Check out our catalogue and buyers' guide specific to this category here.
A while back, we were looking for a marketing automation tool ourselves. We researched, we talked to analysts, and we had deep dives with company reps. Since then, we’ve become very involved in the industry thanks to the complementary nature of analytics and marketing automation. We’ve even formed partnerships with several companies. Now finally, we present our top picks for marketing automation tools (in no particular order).
Userfox is another new player in the marketing automation space, and they were actually just acquired by AdRoll. We’re hoping the combined power of the AdRoll and userfox teams means exciting things for the future of their product. And we know the userfox team has some amazing talent, because one of their co-founders previously worked with us here at Woopra.
Constant Contacts is an email marketing service, created to strengthen email marketing practices of small businesses, associations, nonprofits organizations, etc. It offers WYSIWYG editor to create an email campaign, secure contacts list management, social stats reporting tools, images/texts import feature, real-time tracking of your email campaign, etc.
Marketing automation software is typically priced one of two ways: by the number of contacts in your database or by the number of emails you send each month. For example, the the Growth Pardot plan costs $1,250 per month for email marketing, prospect tracking, lead nurturing and scoring, reporting, forms and landing pages, and standard Salesforce customer relationship management (CRM). This plan can be upgraded to two higher tiers, each of which offers additional features, plug-ins, and add-ons. However, all three Pardot plans give you capacity for 10,000 contacts.
The attention for and growth of the marketing automation market is driven by several evolutions in the ways people inform themselves and buy. The shift from selling to buying, along with the advent of several new digital channels, used by consumers and B2B buyers, keeps impacting the marketing automation industry and the adoption of marketing automation by organizations. However, the best is yet to come.
Proactive Lead Generation. When it comes to digital marketing, you must not only create eye-catching ads and other promotional materials; you must also create quality content to highlight your business’ presence on the internet. With TechValidate, you can collect data directly from your clients, collage the information, and publish the content on your site or on social media, boosting the chances of lead generation.
MailChimp is a fantastic place for beginning marketers to get started. Their “forever free” plan allows you to create a list on MailChimp for free as long as your list is under 500 users. When you’re just starting out, that’s more than enough. If you don’t want to start paying for autoresponders yet, go ahead and give MailChimp a shot, it is a great first step as an email marketing tool.

Build your audience and manage your contact groups. Install our opt-in widget on your website to capture email addresses and automatically sync to contact lists in your account. Upload your own contact lists as either a CSV, TXT or XLS files. Our system will seamlessly integrate into your CRM acting as your second pair of eyes, filtering out unsubscribes and possible errors.
This article is informative, but it does not offer distinguishing features between the services covered (other than mailchimp is free). You seemed to go to great lengths to say good things about each – although I’m sure each services has positive aspects. I would have benefited much more from a rating of some sort of the various features of each service, or at least the pros & cons of each.
Don’t expect marketing automation software to craft dazzling copy and eye-catching visuals to bring those campaigns to life for you: Human creativity and a little elbow grease still carry the day. What you should expect from a good set of automation marketing tools is the ability to manage individual campaigns, cross-channel campaigns, and personalized 1-to-1 customer journeys based on those campaigns.

I don’t have a lot of patience for email marketing software in my role as Copyblogger’s Editor-in-Chief. I need a solution that is intuitive and allows me to focus on the creative message I want to communicate, rather than technical hurdles. I’m picky, and ConvertKit helps me achieve my goals without having to make any compromises in terms of functionality. — Stefanie Flaxman, Editor-in-Chief, Copyblogger
In addition to an organic integration with Salesforce, Pardot offers one of the cleanest user interfaces (UIs) and one of the largest variety of prebuilt templates on the market. But its best features are designed to improve your workflows once they've been created. For example, you can pretest the process of an automated program to see how it reacts. This is essentially a fire drill automation campaign to ensure your complex branching doesn't lead to a dead end or a duplicate email. Pardot also lets you schedule social media campaigns and post in real time to Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter simultaneously. If you really want to manage your marketing program from within one solution, then Pardot also offers a search marketing tool that plugs into Bing, Google, and Yahoo. You can check search engine rankings, monthly volumes, and ranking difficulties as well as run competitor analysis and monitor your paid search campaigns. No other tool we reviewed offers search marketing functionality.
An auto responder campaign is one of six campaign types and is used to send a one-time email to contacts after they subscribe to your list. You can use this campaign type to send a "Welcome" message to contacts as soon as they subscribe to your list, or use it to send a "Check in" message a certain number of days/hours after contacts subscribe to your list.  
Formerly known as SilverPop, IBM Digital Marketing is one of the pioneers in marketing automation. It was created in 1999 to cater to the needs of online businesses, and now it is also providing software solutions for B2B companies. Engineered with simplicity in mind, this no-fuss platform only offers top-of-the line lead management, digital marketing, analytics, and journey design tools. For pricing, IBM Digital Marketing is available by-quote, so feel free to speak with their representatives for inquiries.
Aritic is full stack automation software platform for digital business. Aritic platform for business help business with full-stack marketing automation, communication automation, CRM application, service desk application and business automation stack. At present there is more than 1800+ business globally. Aritic PinPoint is a full-stack marketing automation software platform for the digital marketing team at SMBs. It helps to build the relationship with leads, automate marketing campaigns and convert leads to paying customers easily. It has features such as landing page builder, lead scoring, lead tracking, lead nurturing, email marketing, email marketing automation, marketing campaign builder, a/b testing, web site tracking features with marketing file and library management. PinPoint integrates natively with Salesforce, SugarCRM, Zoho CRM and Social platforms like, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus, Foursquare, Instagram. Aritic Mail is transactional email relay system which helps in delivering email to the mailbox of the recipients. Aritic CRM and Aritic Desk are state of the art, full-stack customer relationship management and service desk application which efficiently helps business to maintain a continuous relationship with their end customers. These application suites are perfect for sales and support team for small and medium businesses.
Why not resurrect old posts? You can bet your readers, especially new subscribers, haven’t read everything you’ve published. Consider scouring your blog for posts that remain valuable. You might batch together several that cover a single category to make it easy to create a topical and thematic series. Or, you might have written a series of posts in the past that could be ideal for an autoresponder series.
Without a solid content marketing strategy to engage prospects across different touchpoints and stages of their buyer’s journey, marketing automation fails. Creating enough content at a reasonable cost is one of the top challenges to marketing automation, according to many marketers. Others include data quality and integration, poor marketing processes, lack of skilled staff and organizational culture. If you don’t build your marketing automation processes around the customer, just as you would do in content marketing, marketing automation is doomed to fail and it becomes even harder to close the loop between marketing, sales and customer value. Vendors have a responsibility as do marketing automation users and agencies. Change management is a must and it’s a well-known fact many organizations buy expensive marketing automation solutions while only using a limited percentage of available features and not even in the best way possible. No marketing automation without a realistic approach, a customer-centric strategy (based on touchpoints, journeys, etc.) and certainly not without a content marketing strategy.
Optimizely is an online marketing platform focusing on website development. Having served more than 6000 companies, they optimize and streamline digital experiences for businesses and customers alike. The software offers behavioral audience targeting and analytics tools to help you take out the digital guesswork and create smarter business decisions based on hard facts. It is also backed with an enterprise-grade security system to keep your data protected. For pricing, they offer three quote-based subscription packages based on your business’ needs.

One of the most simple and effective ways to re-engage an inactive subscriber is to tell your subscribers that you’re going to remove them from their list, but give them an opportunity to opt back in to your emails. Everyone wants what they can’t have and it might be just the thing that makes them feel like they need to start engaging with your email campaigns.
ReportGarden is a marketing automation software focusing on lead management and campaign reporting. Offering SEO audit, invoicing, and budgeting modules for digital marketing agencies, this platform comes in handy for those who are especially conscious about the accurate reporting of their progress. Easily accessed on desktops and internet browsers, ReportGarden offers four pricing plans that may be billed monthly or yearly depending on your preference. They also have a custom plan that starts at $65.
Think about those questions in the context of the above email. Postmates likely has location data of their subscribers. If they can target their lists in cities where this delivery deal is offered and a time they’re likely to order, they’re delivering on value and promise. It gives them a special offer and solves the problem of what to order for lunch. It’d be especially helpful to those needing to work through lunch or for those not watching to shlep young ones to the restaurant for dinner.
Use demographics, behavioral data, and other prospect information to separate hot leads from “just browsing.” Route leads into nurture and drip campaigns based on their qualifications. Every company scores leads a little differently, but the main goal is to identify the most promising leads for your organization at a given time or for a given campaign. A lead score assesses the activities that a prospect has engaged with on your website, for example, downloaded a datasheet, watched a demo video, or filled out a contact form. A lead grade is assigned by demographic information, such as industry, title, company information, or market size. The combination of the lead score and grade will signal to marketing and sales who’s hot and ready to purchase, and who needs more nurturing via a drip campaign.
This has resulted in the rise of omnichannel retail. That is to say, a complete, unified customer experience from start to finish. In order to find success in the current market, companies must meet their customers where they are — whether in-store, online, on social media, or wherever — and provide the same high quality experience every time. This is what separates the best marketing automation tools from the rest.

Send new subscribers a “welcome” sequence. This is the message that you send to people right after they subscribe to your email list. It could contain a link to your lead magnet for an easy download, a thank you for subscribing, or maybe a call-to-action to check out your most popular blog posts. Every email list needs a welcome series: don’t miss this chance to “woo” your new subscribers and turn them into loyal fans!

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